Cause and Symptoms
Any food or water from an infected source can cause traveller's diarrhoea. Symptoms may take 2-3 days to develop and are mainly diarrhoea, as well as abdominal cramps and nausea. These symptoms can often last for 10 days on return. Vomiting and fever are less common symptoms.
The most common cause of Traveller’s Diarrhoea is bacterial contamination in food or water1, with the remainder caused by viruses or parasites.
Prevention and live bacteria supplements
The use of probiotic live bacteria as a preventative for diarrhoea while travelling has been studied. There is evidence that suggests a lower incidence of diarrhoea when Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium are used both as a preventative and for management of symptoms. Studies have found that, giving probiotic live bacteria strains to tourists visiting developing countries, had a benefit in preventing diarrhoea2. It has been suggested that, in order to get the greatest protection from diarrhoea, travellers should start taking probiotic supplements before and during travel, and then continue afterwards (to include the period when taking anti-malarials). This allows the establishment of beneficial bacteria within the gut prior to travel and helps to ensure optimum natural immunity.
- Goldsmith J.M., Leggat P.A.(2007). “The returned traveller with diarrhoea”, Aust Fam Physician, May, 36(5): 322-7.
- Hilton E., Kolakowski P., Singer C., Smith M.J.(1997). “Efficacy of Lactobacillus GG as a Diarrheal Preventive in Travelers”, Travel Med. 4(1):41-43.